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kevin ware



Joined: 27 Jun 2011
Posts: 93
City/Region: Mount Vernon
State or Province: WA
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 255 Tomcat
Vessel Name: El Gato Thomas
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:47 pm    Post subject: Aspen Catamaran Reply with quote

Earlier this year we sold the TomCat we had owned for the past 8 years and replaced it with an Aspen 32 catamaran (actually a "proa"). On announcing that on the website several readers asked that given we were such long time TC owners, we provide some description of the differences, and what we think about them.

The Aspens is a good 7 feet longer and 10 feet wide, but oddly nearly the same weight as the Tom Cat. It has a lot more freeboard than the TC, particularly in the stern. The TC was a planing cat., the Aspen a displacement one, and the difference in ride is quite noticeable. The TC tended to pound when on the plane in a 2 foot chop, or when encountering some large boat wake, the Aspen just slices through it.

The Aspen came with a trailer, and at 36 feet overall in length you would think it harder to tow around than the TC. But to our surprise we found that not to be the case. Due to its width, you do need a 'wide load' sign with the Aspen, but our 1 ton Ford X350 actually handled the larger boat easier than the smaller one. We think that may have something to do with the lower tongue weight on the Aspen, and the fact the boat itself seems to be more streamlined.

There is a fair loss of speed with the Aspen vs the TC. We have found it does a good 18 knots burning about 7.5 GPH of diesel, vs 23-24 knots at 12 - 13 GPH of gas in the TC. For a typical 2 hour trip, the slower speed requires an extra 20 minutes or so in the Aspen.

Oddly, we find the Aspen with its single engine Volvo diesel located on the SB side easier to maneuver in tight quarters than the SD, with its twin Honda 150s. Differential power with the Hondas made for pretty good maneuverability, but they do not compare with bow and stern thrusters in the Aspen.

The difference in interior space is obvious, but mostly noticiable on the aft deck and bathroom/shower area. The bed on both is in the bow, and of similar size, not much difference between the boats once in there. The galley is better laid out in the Aspen, and the properly installed propane stove much easier to operate that the old Wallas in the TC.

Another nice feature is the hot frsh water continuously available from the Aspens cngiens cooling system, and is a forced air furnace that pushes air everywhere in the boat.

Finally, the Aspens navionics and autopilot is 2 years old (2017), whereas the TCs were 12 years old. Big difference in how the autopilot in particular handles the boat. The newer autopilot has the boat on a rail, whereas the earlier one tended to wander a bit.

Overall we are very happy with the change, but given the Aspen cost more than 3 times the amount of our TC, one would expect that.

For the money, a TC in good shape, is a hard boat to beat. Ours was a 2006, in very good condition, had about 500 hours on the Honda 150s, and we sold it for just under $89,500 to the first caller following our ad in C-Brats. We subsequently had 4 additional offers to purchase, some willing to pay more than we had listed it for. We decided good clean TCs must be hard to find.

KW
El Gato Tomas (CD TC)
O'Kari (Aspen 32)
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WeekiTiki



Joined: 12 Jun 2019
Posts: 206
City/Region: Weeki Wachee
State or Province: FL
Photos: WeekiTiki
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! That looks like one terrific boat
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WeekiTiki



Joined: 12 Jun 2019
Posts: 206
City/Region: Weeki Wachee
State or Province: FL
Photos: WeekiTiki
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Single starboard engine

That's weird

Can't say I've ever heard of such a thing

Beautiful boat
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thataway



Joined: 02 Nov 2003
Posts: 16945
City/Region: Pensacola
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: thataway
Photos: Thataway
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Larry Graff has been a very innovative boat builder. Thanks for the write up Kevin. It is interesting. I guess I thought that there would be a lot more room in the Aspen. How is the engine access? That always worries me with cats. I have a friend who built a 60 foot Cat--and the engine access was very tight...changing a water pump or starter was a major undertaking.

His Glacier Bay, (and his adventuresome nature) lead to some amazing voyages in those cats. We had considered the Glacier Bay over the Tom Cat--but the layout was just not right for us. Although the Glacier bay handled better into the chop--it was a bit more difficult to handle going down wind/waves. How does the Aspen do down wind and waves?

Although the 10' may be fine on the highways--I owned a boat with 9'8" beam, and it was at times a bit tight on the rural roads...

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Bob Austin
Thataway
Thataway (Ex Seaweed) 2007 25 C Dory May 2018
Thisaway 2006 22' CDory November 2011 to May 2018
Caracal 18 140 Suzuki 2007 to present
Thataway TomCat 255 150 Suzukis June 2006 thru August 2011
C Pelican; 1992, 22 Cruiser, 2002 thru 2006
Frequent Sea; 2003 C D 25, 2007 thru 2009
KA6PKB
Home port: Pensacola FL
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kevin ware



Joined: 27 Jun 2011
Posts: 93
City/Region: Mount Vernon
State or Province: WA
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 255 Tomcat
Vessel Name: El Gato Thomas
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:33 pm    Post subject: Aspen Reply with quote

Bob:

Your are right, inboard engines in cats can be lost down there in a narrow dark hole of a canyon, and very difficult to access. But not in this case.

One of the reasons why we bought the Aspen 32 vs the 28 had to do with engine access and noise. In the 32 the engine is a turbo charged 220 HP Volvo marinized truck engine, which fits very comfortably in the SB hull, with a huge access hatch for daily access. The top of the engine is 4 inches under the hatch, which in turn is at deck level. The deck area around the engine is removable with 4 screws, which leaves the entire thing out in the open. (The 28 has the engine halfway under the SB cabin).

We found the Aspen's noise level to be slightly less than oure TC with Honda 150s, particularly if standing outside. A couple of reasons for this. One is there is only one engine, another is that the engine is aft of the cabin and in a very sound insulated box. Nick and Larry Graff like to perform a "zipper test" when demonstrating the boat. They run the engine up to cruise power, then start sliding their jacket zipper back and forth...something you can hear from anywhere inside the boat.

The boat works with just one engine because the Port hull is 33% smaller than the SB (a "proa"). The decrease drag of the smaller jull is exactly engineered to balance the thrust differential by having just one (offset) engine on the opposite side. Without bow and stern thrusters, it handles just about the way I remember the Nordhavn, which also had a single main engine, although the Aspen is quicker to respond given the lower weight. Bower and stern thrusters make it very easy to maneuver in tight quarters.

Even though a former Norhavn 46 liveaboard owner, I was a bit concerned from a reliability perspective, about just having one engine. The Volvo engine however is good for 200,000 miles in trucks, the fuel is well filtered, and the engine cooling system works via a fresh water heat exchanger. The company follows this, and the only thing that has stopped one of these engines on these boats thus far, is tangling up a bunch of nylon line in the propellor. In spite of the history of reliability however, the company provides a bracket so that the dinghy engine can be mounted to drive the boat if needed...does 3-4 knots they say...I have never tried it.

Other than the obvious differences in size, and power, the major thing we have noticed is the ride in rough water. The Aspen's displacement hulls just cut through it, whereas if on the plane, the TC could pound pretty loudly, often resulting in the need to come off the plane and slow down. This is most noticeable when crossing the wake of some bigger vessel.

We tend to study a boat carefully before we buy, then keep it for a long time (8 years in the TC case). Will see how this one does. Thus far, very good.

KW
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jennykatz



Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 1571
City/Region: naples
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2006
C-Dory Model: 23 Venture
Vessel Name: Little Treasurer
Photos: Jennykatz
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:45 am    Post subject: Aspen Reply with quote

There is now a outboard Aspen model 200 hp on the Proa side and 70hp on the smaller side Over 300k but itís a nice long haul cruiser Jim
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Duck c-22 cruiser sold 6/23/08
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00 cd16 cruiser honda 40 sold 3/12
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jennykatz



Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 1571
City/Region: naples
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2006
C-Dory Model: 23 Venture
Vessel Name: Little Treasurer
Photos: Jennykatz
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:46 am    Post subject: Aspen Reply with quote

There is now a outboard Aspen model 200 hp on the Proa side and 70hp on the smaller side Over 300k but itís a nice long haul cruiser Jim
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Gulfcoastjohn



Joined: 03 Oct 2017
Posts: 58
City/Region: Pensacola
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2010
C-Dory Model: 255 Tomcat
Vessel Name: CAT 'O MINE
Photos: CAT 'O MINE
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin,

Thanks for posting your comments.

The June 2019 Boating mag has a test on the outboard powered (200/70 Yamaha) Aspen c107, which is also very interesting.

I agree with Bob, we have followed and been amazed at the exploits of Glacier Bay cats founder Larry Graf. We will always remember the 2007 Miami Boat Show where he introduced the GB 30 ft cat, a 10 ft beam, Bahamas-capable cruiser or fisher.

But, now at 6 years as TC255 owners, we would avoid an over-wide and the permitting process for every state as a non-starter in our current lifestyle.
We contend the TC255 is pretty close to the ideal for a couples cruising boat (no overnight guests) that can be trailered 24/7, without a permit, anywhere in the continent with a std HD truck.

Your points re better handling of large wakes and big seas are right-onÖbut no one should be out there in those conditions anyway.

If we use $160,000 for a new TC255 with trailer and $330,000 for a new Aspen C107 with trailer, the difference would fully fund 42,500g of gas at $4/gal, or several lifetimes of very long-distance cruising.

We agree that if you want overnight guests aboard a trailer boat, your investment will have to go way up fast for all to be comfortable and happy.

Thanks again for your input, and hope to meet you someday on the water.
Safe travels and best wishes!

John

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John and Eileen Highsmith
2010 TC255 Cat O' Mine
Yamaha F150's
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hardee



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 9982
City/Region: Sequim
State or Province: WA
C-Dory Year: 2005
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: Sleepy-C
Photos: SleepyC
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin, Thanks for the write-up. The Aspen is a very interesting concept with the single IB and now an off balance twins version. Enjoy and hope to see you around on the water.

Harvey
SleepyC Moon


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